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February 22, 2011

Worship

I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people. Psalm 52:9

Believers need from the church certain functions to live a balanced, growing spiritual life. These functions might be: worship, fellowship, service, discipleship. These could be likened to a stool or chair, and the local church stands primarily on these four legs, on the foundation of Christ. Each leg has its own purposes and characteristics. While each can also be experienced outside the church, they should all be an integral part of the whole church experience for believers. The church can be dysfunctional when one of these is removed -- not provided in the church. Still, a stool can stand on three legs, and many believers will find the “missing leg” in other ways (eg. at another church; through a mission organization). Of course, a stool with two legs cannot stand. Similarly, a church effective at providing only two of the legs is not likely to prosper.

Worship might be considered the signature of the church. Most churches have a meeting they call “worship”. Sometimes, worship can be hard to find in these services; I have certainly experienced it. How could that be? I suspect the meaning of worship might be lost at times. And I believe this and other factors may mislead us to think we are worshipping when we are not. If you think of it, our worship service is where others meet our local congregation, it is how thy will know us. This makes it vital that worship be Christ-centered, and alive. Those who find a place of true worship are like to also find true fellowship among us. Now, worship is also a personal act, and our individual preparation can be at fault.

Worship is an act of exalting God (and Christ). In the assembly, corporate praise is directed upward to Him. The Spanish word for worship is adoración; worship is adoring God. As such, it is all about Him, and not about us. If you consider this assertion, you can observe during a service which acts are about Him (worship) and which are about us (something else). Truly, all of the service does not have to be adoration, but I would suggest that the more adoration, the more useful and meaningful. I would assert the most direct form of worship, especially in the church, is music. This can be validated by reading the Psalms, and especially the last five Psalms. One of the principle reasons so-called contemporary worship, or praise worship, is so popular is that it devotes so much time to adoration, especially praise music. It exalts God, and in most cases a lot of the “about us” is cut out.

Perhaps we have let the church evolve to the point where we spend so much of our time on the other things, that we have forgotten the real meaning of worship. The Acts church was known for, among other things, its praise. The Psalms are full of praise. The scene in Revelation 4 is of continual - and repetitious – praise of God, in Heaven. The church that devotes significant time to praising God will be motivated to fulfill ALL of its purposes. When I leave a Sunday meeting, if I have truly worshipped God, I am lifted up and better equipped. For me, active praise of God (worship) is one of my most important spiritual foods.
copyright 2011